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Lana Turner

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Lana Turner
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Lana Turner

Lana Turner (February 8, 1921June 29, 1995) was an American actress famed early in her career for tight sweaters and smoldering sensuality and later in her career for sudsy romance films with maximum tragedy and glamorous gowns.

The name on her birth certificate, as she stated in her autobiography, was Julia Jean Turner, not Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner as many sources claim. In any case, she was called Judy as a child and became Lana Turner when she became an actress. She was born in Wallace, Idaho, and died in Century City, California. Her father was John Virgil Turner, a clerk and gambler who was murdered when she was a child; her mother was Mildred Frances Cowan.

She was "discovered" at the age of 15 in the Top Hat Café in Hollywood by film journalist William R. Wilkerson, who introduced her to actor/comedian/talent agent Zeppo Marx.

Turner reached the height of her fame in the 1940's and 1950's. She earned the nickname the "Sweater Girl" due to her opening scene in her debut movie They Won't Forget, in which her breasts bounced in her tight sweater. During WWII, Turner became a popular pin-up girl due to her popularity in such films such as Ziegfeld Girl, Johnny Eager, and two films with MGM's king of the lot: Clark Gable (the films' successes were only heightened by gossip column rumors about a relationship between the two). After the war, Turner's career hit a new high with the classic 1946 film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice co-starring John Garfield. During the 1950's, Turner's films started to flop at the box-office, until she starred in Vincente Minnelli's masterpiece The Bad and the Beautiful and later the big screen adaptation of Grace Metalious's best-selling novel Peyton Place in which she earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.


Off screen, Turner was married eight times to seven different husbands, and had many lovers, including a gangster named Johnny Stompanato who was fatally stabbed by Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane (The killing was deemed a justifiable homicide by coroner's inquest.)

Her husbands were bandleader Artie Shaw (1940); actor-restaurateur Josef Stephen Crane (1942-1943, 1943-44); millionaire socialite Henry J. Topping, Jr. (1948-52); actor Lex Barker (1953-57), whom she divorced after her daughter Cheryl claimed that he molested her; rancher Fred May (1960-62); businessman Robert Eaton (1965-69); and nightclub hypnotist Ronald Peller, a.k.a. Ronald Dante (1969-72).

In the 1970s and 80s, Turner appeared in several television roles, but the majority of her final decade was spent out of the public eye. She died in 1995 of throat cancer which was diagnosed in 1992.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Lana Turner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6241 Hollywood Blvd.

The eminent American poet Frank O'Hara wrote a poem entitled "Lana Turner Has Collapsed" inspired by Turner after seeing a headline about her soon after her lover Stompanato's murder.


Filmography

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